Universities using alternative reporting options for sexual assault

Madison Rexroat

Colleges have started to consider anonymous online reporting options for victims of sexual assault.

Sexual assaults are often underreported on college campuses because victims are embarrassed, traumatized, or afraid that their assault will change perceptions of them. Anonymous online reporting helps victims share their story without identifying themselves, thereby encouraging reports to be made.

Reporting online also speaks to a generational change since college students are often more comfortable disclosing information to a computer screen rather than face-to-face.

While the anonymity of online reporting is criticized for not being ‘enough’ to address sexual assault on campus, it is expected to lead to more reports, and therefore more information. Even if a report is anonymous or incomplete, the data can help law enforcement officials identify patterns or repeat offenders, and it can provide a more accurate picture of the campus climate.

Online reporting systems are only in place at four colleges, but they might become more widespread as other schools try to improve the underreporting epidemic. 

To read the full article by The Chronicle of Higher Education, click here.